Join US! Happy Healthy Holidays is coming soon!

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Join me! It’s 100% free – no obligation – join me to bring a healthy spin to your holidays! We will begin Monday, November 24 and end on New Years Eve

You can join for FREE– Happy Healthy Holiday’s Group and not only will you receive lots of love and support through the holidays– you will even get my newsletters and tips – and it’s all for FREE.

  • Nutrition (adding in at least one healthy food per week)
  • Exercise (a minimum of 30 minutes 6 days a week)
  • Gratitude (take the time to be grateful for at least 3 things in your life daily)
  • Giving (challenge yourself to give without expectation of reciprocation once daily)

Just click on the link and join me! Be sure to bring your friends along, Everyone deserves Happy Healthy Holidays!

#happyhealthyholidays #healthyholidays #happy #fungroup #nutritionsupport #gratitude #giving

 

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Quick and Easy: Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Who can resist?!

Use honey to sweeten, dark cocoa powder  and nut butters, that’s about it.

Remember Reese’s? Same concept, only much more healthy!

Nutrition notes:

Use fresh ground nut butters, if you can. Certainly do not use any that have added sugars! The labels should read ground peanuts or ground almonds.

Read the labels on your cocoa, it should be pure raw cocoa for best benefits

Toast your own nuts, it’s easy and you are doing the process.

Add dry milk powder or protein powder for added nutritional boost. I like to use maca powder for this.

Using dry milk powder will also help them hold shape better when at room temperature.

Extra virgin coconut oil please. Or grass-fed butter, but that’s a lot and it would be decadent but certainly not vegan.

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

  • Servings: 24 small cups
  • Time: 30 minutes + freeze time
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Before you begin, line a mini-muffin tin with pleated paper liners. It is important to use paper liners as you’ll need it to hold them while eating.

Make two layers, chocolate first as it needs to firm up before adding the top layer.

Use mini-muffin tins. Fill cups half way with chocolate mixture

Use mini-muffin tins.
Fill cups half way with chocolate mixture

Chocolate Almond Layer:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup local honey (use maple syrup if vegan)
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup maca powder, if desired
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted almonds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Using a double boiler, melt the coconut oil, honey and almond butter until smooth. Realize that it won’t be totally smooth due to the nuts you may choose to use.

Rub the cocoa powder and maca powder through a mesh strainer to remove any lumps. Add a pinch of salt to the dry ingredients.

Fold the almonds into the dry ingredients

Fold melted coconut oil mixture into the cocoa powder mixture, stir to totally incorporate; add vanilla and salt and stir well.

Fill each of the paper-lined muffin tins half way up with the chocolate mixture. Be careful not to dribble along the edges so the final product has a clean appearance. Work carefully.

Once filled half way, pop the tray into the freezer to firm up while you make the next mixture.

Add the peanut butter layer, top with toasted nuts before freezing

Add the peanut butter layer, top with toasted nuts before freezing

Peanut Butter Layer

  • 1/2 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter (I love the chunky kind!)
  • 1/4 cup local honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Sliced toasted almonds to garnish the tops

Melt everything over a double boiler until everything has melted. Depending on the texture you chose, it may be smooth or lumpy.

Remove the chocolate cups from the freezer, fill each cup with the peanut butter mixture to the rim of the paper.

Sprinkle the top of each cup with toasted almonds and a piece of Maldon salt if desired.

Freeze for a couple of hours before serving.

These are best served frozen or extremely cold. if serving as finger food, leave the paper on, if plating a dessert with them, remove the paper. They will become rather soft as they remain in room temperature.

If a firmer room temperature texture is desired, add 1/2 cup dry milk powder to each mixture. This will boost nutritional value as well.

Irresistible Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Irresistible Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

 

#vegandessert #peanutbuttercups #healthypeanutbuttercups #chocolatealmondpeanutbuttercups #honey #honeydesserts #nutbutter #chocolatealmond

#glutenfree #musteatnow #healthytreats #healthydesserts

 

 

Happy Healthy Holidays

Happy Healthy Holidays!

Happy Healthy Holidays!

Happy Healthy Holidays!

Just imagine: Healthy, happy holidays, peaceful and full of joyful spirit.

Together we will face the tempting treats and the pack-on-the-pounds holidays without busting our diets or losing energy while keeping focus.

Join us.  We will transform our holiday season together and start the New Year out right!

In this FREE program, we focus on 4 main areas:

  1. Nutrition (adding in, not taking away. This is key to consistent energy)
  2. Exercise (movement to increase your endorphins and energy)
  3. Gratitude
  4. Giving

You will receive daily inspiration, weekly focus and lots of support in our “secret Facebook group”.

The program begins Monday, 11/24/2014 and runs through 12/31/2014. Get supported in achieving your goals through this holiday season and make it a Happy Healthy Holiday!

Follow the link to join, then invite your friends to join in too. The more the merrier!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/856387267726978/

#healthyholiday #happyhealthyholiday #goals #goalssupport #nutritionsupportgroups #gratitudegiving #gratitude #giving #stayhealthythroughtheholidays

Eat Fresh! What’s in Season NOW: October 2014

Fall is in the air!

Fresh Crisp Fall Apples

Fresh Crisp Fall Apples

A nip in the morning, time to grab a light jacket.

Here is a quick listing of what’s in season now.

These are the things you should be seeing in the markets, things that are growing locally.

Click on the links for recipes and other great information while you read the list!

Apples – Quite abundant for apple dumplings  and apple sauce now through February. Find an orchard and go apple picking!

Beets –  get some baby ones and roast them. So delicious! Pickle some for later. Ummm

Pickled beets

Pickled beets

Apples on display

Apples on display

Bok Choy – debuts mid month! Make a refreshing salad of crisp stir-fry

Cabbage – plenty on hand until mid December. Try your hand at making Sauerkraut or Kimchee

Cherry Tomatoes – these juicy gems will be gone by November. I’ve witnessed my plants slowing way down in production. Enjoy them now!

Collards – A year round favorite green. Make some cornbread, cook up some pinto beans, add simmered collards and YUM! You’ve got quite a meal.

Cucumbers – are saying good bye. As in days of yore, if you haven’t put up your pickles yet, you’re almost out of time!Chow Chow Pic

Greens – Like cooler weather so there should be a good selection through mid December. Time to fortify.

Herbs – There are many you will find in the markets. They are quite easy to grow so you should consider a small container of herbs for your kitchen.

Indian Corn – for decoration

Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

Kale – Hearty and healthy; abundantly available. Make salads, stews, soup,  smoothies, chips, saute it, wraps. . .

Lettuce – makes another quick season before it gets too cold.

Muscadine Grapes – nearly gone. Freeze some for holiday punch bowls and drinks. Crush, simmer and extract the juice. Make sorbet to die for. Definitely worth doing

Muscadine grapes

Muscadine grapes

Mushrooms – you should be seeing a nice supply through the end of November

Napa Cabbage – shows us a quick cool season until mid December when the deep cold sets in with shorter sunlight hours

Peanuts – Seems these are always available

Pears – Nice juicy pears are around until the end of October. Poach a few, can a few more for winter treats.

Persimmons – The perennial Fall Favorite to those who like them. Honestly, I don’t get it.

Pumpkins – Yay! I get them for carving, roasting, eating, I plant succulents on them, decorate with them. After Thanksgiving, I paint them Christmas colors.

Painted Pumpkins Lined up to dry

Painted Pumpkins Lined up to dry

Radishes – There should be a bunch of radishes this month. I love the French Breakfast Radish. Yeah.

Raspberries – Fresh and short lasting. Enjoy them, freeze them but that’s just not the same as fresh. Gotta love those little seeds!

Romaine – Another lettuce for the Fall season. Practice your Caesar Salad skills.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Snow Peas  – Toss some into your Stir-fry, I like to snack on them like chips. So crisp and delicious!

Spinach – Add just a pinch of fresh grated nutmeg to your spinach for an awesome flavor compliment. Just a small pinch is all you need.

Sweet Potatoes – Available all year.

Tomatoes – If you grow them, watch for the first freeze and pick whats left. Make Green Tomato Chow-chow or Green Tomato Pie (tastes just like apple!)

A delicious Green Tomato Pie

A delicious Green Tomato Pie

Turnips – add some to soup, mash some with your mashed potatoes. Toss some into your greens as they cook. My favorite, Pickled Turnips!

Pickled Turnips

Pickled Turnips

This, is the list for the Piedmont area of North Carolina.

What’s growing where you live?

#localfood #eatfresh #healthyeating #freshfood #seasonalfood #localfarmers #farmersmarkets #freshfruit #freshvegetables #whatsinseasonnow

 

 

 

 

 

Whole Roasted Cauliflower Enrobed in Spicy Yogurt Dressing

 

This is a delicious way to serve a whole roasted cauliflower. Instead of drying out in the oven, the spicy yogurt dressing serve as a marinade and a tasty barrier holding all the yummy juices inside.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower Enrobed in Spicy Yogurt Dressing

Whole Roasted Cauliflower Enrobed in Spicy Yogurt Dressing

The yogurt dressing will turn golden brown when the cauliflower is done. Pierce carefully with a slim knife to test for tenderness all the way through.

Do not over-cook, you don’t want the vegetable to fall apart and be mushy.

Each head of cauliflower will serve 4 people generously, 6-8 as a side dish.

This would make a fun “roast replacement” for any vegetarian (not vegan due to the yogurt) meal.

Plated roasted cauliflower

Plated roasted cauliflower

Here’s what you need:

Whole Roasted Cauliflower Enrobed in Spicy Yogurt Dressing

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower
2 cups plain Greek yogurt (or drain plain yogurt so it is nice and thick.)
Zest and juice from 1 lime, more if your taste prefers
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Very Tasty!

Very Tasty!

Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove any green leaves; trim so it sits flat.

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt with the lime zest and juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

Spread the mixture all over the cauliflower; use a brush or your hands to smear the marinade evenly over the surface. Save any extra for serving later.

Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 40-45 minutes in a 400°F. The surface will be dry and lightly browned. The marinade will make a crust on the surface of the cauliflower.

Place the cauliflower on the serving platter and cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Slice the cauliflower into wedges and serve with a fresh green salad.Whole Roasted Cauliflower Enrobed in Spicy Yogurt Dressing

Serve any extra yogurt marinade on the side of the roasted cauliflower; add good quality bread and you’ve quite a meal.

Try this for Meatless Monday!

#wholeroastedcauliflower #roastedvegetables #cookingvegetables #cauliflower #meatlessmeals #meatlessMonday #vegeterianmaindish

Pumpkin Snicker-doodles

Pumpkin Snicker-doodles are delightful. Full of rich Autumnal flavors, they are sure to please your sweet tooth craving.

Yum! Cookies!

I made last year and sent some down to Tyler. I had my culinary students make them to share with the local Ronald McDonald House, and now my son wants the recipe again. He had several friends last year who were going to another friends home for Thanksgiving and they wanted to take these pumpkin cookies.

So somehow they found a kitchen to bake in. We had an afternoon of “cooking by text” with successful results. Hopefully they had enough to take to their hostess.

This year he and his girlfriend are in apartments and have their own kitchens. They are going to cook for each other this year. I am publishing the recipe for Pumpkin Snicker-doodles, along with the method and photos so one of them can make the cookies again.

So, you don’t like pumpkin? Substitute mashed banana instead of pumpkin.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies so you may want to cut the recipe in half or just share!

Here are some reasons you should make these this afternoon:

  • They are easy
  • They taste great
  • They look impressive
  • The recipe makes a lot of cookies so there is plenty to share
  • Your house will smell wonderful all afternoon
  • You can freeze some dough to bake later
  • It’s another Pumpkin thing!
  • Fall is in the air

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

  • Servings: A lot of small cookies! About 6 dozen
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: moderate to easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3  large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 6 cups AP flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt

For rolling dough balls in before baking:

  • 1 cup white sugar mixed
  • 1 ½  tsp. cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl beat butter, both sugars, eggs, pumpkin puree, and vanilla on medium until butter is evenly incorporated into pumpkin.

In another bowl combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and spices.

Fully Mixed Dough, Chill for at least 1 hour

Roll balls of the chilled dough in cinnamon sugar

Space the cookies 2″ apart on a lined sheet pan. Use parchment paper if you don’t have a silpat sheet. Flatten slightly with your fingers.

Beat dry ingredients into wet until it is all mixed in.  The dough will be fluffy but very sticky.

Cover and chill for at least an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 375°.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons  form golf-ball sized balls with the chilled dough.

Roll balls in cinnamon sugar.

Place 2” apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Flatten slightly with fingers, but not too much.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are crackled and the edges are light golden brown.

Let cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet before removing to cooling sheets.

Cool cookies on a wire rack before drizzling with icing sugar.

To make icing sugar, combine 10x powdered sugar with a small bit of milk and a few drops of vanilla. Add the liquid a few drops at a time as the sugar will reach drizzling consistency quickly. Us a fork to drizzle, allow to dry before stacking cookies.

Eat and be happy!

Pumpkin Snicker doodles

 

Questioning the Ethics of Farmers Markets

Is everything you buy from the farmers market from a local farm? If you think so, I hate to tell you, but in some cases,  you would be wrong.

As with every industry, business and activity, there are those who will jump on an opportunity for a quick buck.

Got to be NC Agriculture

Got to be NC Agriculture

There are ethical markets that vet their vendors to prove the products they are selling are indeed from the local area. Locally, the Matthews Farmers Market, Atherton Mills Market and Yorkmont Markets are truly farmers markets. Then there are others.

It really irks me when I see opportunists take advantage of trusting customers. Our local Farmers Markets  sell produce, hoop cheese and country ham; primary season is from April through October 31; adding pumpkins and squashes as the season comes to a close. The markets are extremely busy.

Ask about how the animals are raised

Ask about how the animals are raised

People buy there thinking they are in some manner, doing better for their families, communities and supporting farmers.

I remember when Robert used to tell me of the farmers market on the corner near his house. I lived in the mountains of North Carolina at the time and walking to a weekly farmers market painted romantic dreams of urban living.

There is a corner market nearby that I have been observing for years. It is a family run business, they own a nice block or two of land in what would be considered “prime commercial real estate” for mid-town Charlotte.

On market days, there are often traffic jams which require hiring off-duty police to direct traffic. People pile in and load up their baskets with whatever produce they find; feeling good about feeding their families on fresh “farmers market” foods.

They don’t ask questions, they just flock in and buy.

Vegetables at the marketEarly in the morning, restaurants show up at the market to buy the produce at wholesale prices. In turn, the restaurants go back and advertise on their menu’s that they offer “local vegetables bought from the farmers market.”

The biggest buzzwords in food lately are “local, sustainable and organic.” Claim that and you gain an easy audience in your marketing; your marketing image leans towards a caring business who supports the local community.

However, the public is being duped.

People don’t ask questions!

On my visits to the market, I noticed they would have the same bagged greens that we could buy in the grocery store.

Locally grown? Chiquita, really? Mangoes? Pineapples?

Locally grown? Chiquita, really? Mangoes? Pineapples?

I noticed they always had corn. Always have corn, from April through the end of November. And the corn has a sign on it, written with highlighter, “Non-GMO.” Somehow I don’t believe it. I’d like to ask for proof.

What really caught my attention and lit my fire was the last time I was there. Each check out station was surrounded by pulp baskets of strawberries with signs on them declaring “Sweet Strawberries $3.99 qt.”

Being July and knowing it is well past strawberry season here, I asked:

Commercially grown strawberries dressed up to look like farm-fresh. These "local" berries are from California and sometimes Driscolls grows in Mexico too.

Commercially grown strawberries dressed up to look like farm-fresh. These “local” berries are from California and sometimes Driscoll’s grows in Mexico too.

“Where the berries were from?”

“California. . .”

“Are they organic?”

“No, they are Driscoll’s.”

This makes them no different from what you buy in the grocery store! Driscoll’s just happens to be a huge mono-culture farmer of commercial berries.

Commercially grown strawberries are sprayed and hold residue of many different chemicals. Here is an in-depth article you can read here:

Pesticides are a Danger to Health and the Environment – Choose Organic!

The article will tell you about the research and how dangerous chemicals are being used on commercially grown strawberries and other produce and best of all, what you can do about it!

So when people buy the berries from this market, they are not getting an organic berry but commercially grown berries instead. The berries are packaged to look like farm fresh; the hand written signs are casual and fit the marketing image.

Muscadine grapes

Muscadine grapes

I looked around and saw shoppers scarfing up the berries and other produce thinking they are in some way or another doing good because they are buying their food from the farmers market.

The problem is, they are buying the same as they would get from the grocery without it being disclosed! They are buying the same stuff commercial restaurants buy from commercial broadband vendors and smaller vendors like Restaurant Depot.

 The are buying the commercially grown food they are trying to avoid by shopping at the farmers market in the first place.

This is the kind of food we try to avoid for better health.

I think all markets should be required have signage on every product that says where it was grown and by whom. All items should be labeled how it was grown and be able to provide the paperwork to prove it, if asked.

Full Disclosure!

Let us have the right to make a choice and they should be prepared to provide the proof. I’ve lost my trust in our corner farmers market. They may have a few farmers but I don’t believe their corn in Non-GMO, I don’t believe their claims. Broccoli is not coming out of any local garden at this time of year, yet they have a table full of it.

The public needs to be aware of this practice so they can actually support the real farmers; go to a real market.

At this time of year, you won’t see any strawberries because they aren’t in season.

California has passed a bill to crack down on Farmers Market Fraud. See the article below for information.

 http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2014/08/27/california-legislature-passes-bill-to-crack-down-on-farmers-market-fraud/

In the meantime, when you go to a market, ask questions. If they can’t or won’t tell you, don’t buy it! They are probably a commercial enterprise posing as a farmers market for easy money.October 15, 2011 farmers market 021

Here are some easy questions to ask:

  • “Where are these (insert whatever fruit or vegetable) from?”
  • “Are they organically grown?”
  • “Does the farm have a website?” Then use your phone and look them up. You’ll know if it is a commercial farm or a local farm.
  • “Why do you have broccoli in August? Where is it being grown? and how far did it travel to come to be here?” [To people wanting to reduce their carbon footprint, this matters!]

The Farmers Market industry currently has few regulations. Some require you to apply and be approved before you can sell there. They actually verify you are truly a local food producer.

However, if you own a few acres of vacant land, you can throw up some awnings, spread tables with produce you bought at the broad distributor food service uses, invite a few folks to sell grass-fed beef, home-made cakes, pies, flowers, and you too can be in the Farmers Market business as long as you have a business license.

I think this is scandalous and it really makes me quite angry.

Don’t Assume!

We’ve all got brains in our heads, it’s time to put them to use. This is something everyone who goes to a farmers market should be aware of.

Do some research, find out what kind of farmers market you patronize.

Be sure you are actually getting what you think you are getting. Ask a few questions. The answers may surprise you.

Don’t be duped!

#eatfresh #farmersmarkets #ethicalfarmersmarkets #Knowyourfood #wheredoesyourfoodcomefrom #eatwell #freshfood #fruit

#vegetables #freshproduce #healthyfood

Support your Local Farmer!

Support your Local Farmer!